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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-486
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-486
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 18 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 18 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Counting on Chemistry: Laboratory Evaluation of Seed Material-Dependent Detection Efficiencies of Ultrafine Condensation Particle Counters

Peter Josef Wlasits1, Dominik Stolzenburg1,2, Christian Tauber1, Sophia Brilke1, Sebastian Harald Schmitt3, Paul Martin Winkler1, and Daniela Wimmer1 Peter Josef Wlasits et al.
  • 1University of Vienna, Aerosol Physics and Environmental Physics, Boltzmanngasse 5, 1090 Vienna, Austria
  • 2University of Helsinki, Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research/Physics, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
  • 3TSI GmbH, Neukoellner Straße 4, 52068 Aachen, Germany

Abstract. Condensation Particle Counters (CPCs) are crucial instruments for detecting sub-10 nm aerosol particles. Understanding the detection performance of a CPC requires thorough characterization under well-controlled laboratory conditions. Besides the size of the seed particles, chemical interactions between the working fluid and the seed particles also influence the activation efficiencies. However, common seed particle materials used for CPC characterizations are not chosen in respect of chemical interactions with 5 vapor molecules of the working fluid by default. Here, we present experiments on the influence of the seed particle material on the detection efficiencies and the 50 % cut-off diameters of commonly used CPCs for the detection of sub-10 nm particles. A remarkable set consisting of six different and commercially available particle detectors, including the newly-developed TSI V-WCPC 3789 and a tuned TSI 3776, was tested. The corresponding working fluids of the instruments are n-butanol, diethylene glycol and water. Among other materials we were able to measure detection efficiencies with 10 nanometer-sized organic seed particles reproducibly generated by oxidation of β-caryophyllene vapor in a flow tube. Theoretical simulations of supersaturation profiles in the condensers were successfully related to measured detection efficiencies. Our results demonstrate the importance of chemical similarities between seed particles and the used working fluids when CPCs are characterized. We anticipate our study to contribute to a deeper understanding of chemical interactions during heterogeneous nucleation processes.

Peter Josef Wlasits et al.

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Short summary
In this paper we show that chemical similarities between the seed particle material and the working fluid have an impact on the detection efficiency of commonly used CPCs. A remarkable set of CPCs, including the newly-developed V-WCPC 3789, was tested. Among others, reproducibly generated organic seeds based on beta–caryophyllene were used. Theoretical simulations of supersaturation profiles were successfully linked to measured data.
In this paper we show that chemical similarities between the seed particle material and the...
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